Anytime anyone comes to visit, the tour is one of the first things I plan for.
Why, you may ask?
Well, because it’s beautiful for starters. Secondly, I don’t think visitors quite understand how grand it really is until they are staring at the Apotheosis of Washington in person. Not to mention checking out the minted tile, paintings, whisper spot in Statuary Hall, the beautiful visitor center and original Senate chambers.
But this post is not about walking where John Adams stood, or where Rosa Parks laid in state. This is all about my experience with the dome. Yep, I finally went there.
When I didn’t win the White House Easter Egg Roll Lottery (again), he looked into making a U.S. Capitol dome tour happen for me with one of his former colleagues.
This little gem of a tour had been sitting on my bucket list for nearly seven years. Thank you!
The tour itself is not for children or high heels– there are hundreds of steep stairs to the outside viewing area under the Statue of Freedom. If you ever have the chance to go, by all means, I will watch your kids. Don’t miss it.
The view from the top is probably one of the best I’ve seen.
You have to be escorted by a member of congress. If you are unable to find a tour with one with your representatives, they may contact the Office of the Architect of the Capitol on your behalf to find out if there is one you can join. It pays to be nice to the staff assistant!
If you have a fear of rejection from your representative, heights or are short on time, I wholeheartedly recommend the general US Capitol Tour. If you are able to, schedule it with a member of your representative’s office for a more intimate setting. The short movie at the visitor center is one of my faves, and be sure to ask about the cat footprints.
US Capitol Tour Information
- US Capitol Visitor Center: Located beneath the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol- at First Street and East Capitol Street.
- Nearest Metro: Capitol South and Union Station
- The Capitol Visitor Center is open from 8:30 – 4:30 Monday through Saturday (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Inauguration Days).
- The US Capitol Tour and Visitor Center are free, but passes are required for tours of the Capitol Building. They may be booked online. You must request passes through your Representative/Senator for access to the Senate and House galleries.
- Security screening is required for everyone entering the visitor center. Strollers are permitted, but food and beverages are not. A food court is available within in the visitor center. A list of all prohibited items is available here.